In 1994, the Big Ten athletic conference began an annual postseason tournament of the best teams within the conference. The single-elimination tournament gives teams a chance to punch their ticket to the NCAA Division I women’s soccer tournament, with the Big Ten tournament champion receiving an automatic spot in the 64-team field. This week, Columbus plays hosts to all the drama.
This year is only the fourth time that the conference opted for a neutral site to host the event in its 28 years. Award-winning Lower.com Field, the home of Major League Soccer’s Columbus Crew, welcomes four schools with hopes of continuing their seasons.
That means fans from schools across four different states will descend on Ohio’s capital city. The tournament’s No. 1 seed, the Michigan State Spartans, face the Nebraska Cornhuskers and No. 2 seed Northwestern Wildcats face the most successful Big Ten school for women’s soccer – the Penn State Nittany Lions.
The Ohio State Buckeyes aren’t in this year’s semifinals after losing to Nebraska on Sunday afternoon, but there’s still plenty of college spirit to go around. Also, while American football may be known for passionate fans who follow their teams from campus to campus, the world’s football will bring not only player’s families but alumni and fans to Downtown Columbus and the surrounding areas.
Make the Most of Your Trip
There are a few things any college sports fan needs to do before leaving Columbus.
Before that, check out our Arena District Game Day Guide to help you plan your trip. The Arena District is the area of the city where three professional sports teams, multiple restaurants, music venues and more call home. Also, add these spots to your itinerary if you need a little more sports on your visit!
Below are some bonus, college-centric, items you can add to your trip.
Meet Brutus Buckeye
In a way, you can still meet the famous college mascot even if the nutty representative of the Scarlet & Gray isn’t at the stadium. If you want to get out and see campus, take a walk and locate all 34 Brutus Buckeye statues across campus.
Brutus is all over the place, donning different uniforms. On one street you can see it as a member of the Ohio State marching band, affectionately known as the Best Damn Band in the Land.
The nut’s also been seen around the 1,600-acre campus as a basketball player, astronaut and even a leprechaun. Here’s a full map of all Brutuses (Bruti?) to guide your journey.
Carb Loading at Buckeye Donuts
Regardless of your stance on the Buckeyes athletic teams, one thing fans from all schools can agree upon is the deliciousness of donuts. While Columbus is full of stops for a donut, there’s one shop that gathers the most attention and affection – Buckeye Donuts.
There are two locations, but the campus spot is the most popular. Located on N. High Street, the main road that cuts down the middle of Columbus, is the famous neon donuts sign with a cartoon of Brutus Buckeye holding up one of the many options available.
Traveling to a city and cheering on your school is tiring work that should be rewarded. Visit their website for more information.
Visit Buckeye Grove
A great way to bring in the fall season is a walk in Buckeye Grove. Located Southwest of Ohio Stadium lies a park full of buckeye trees. Each one represents a different All-American from the Buckeyes American football team.
Touting over 200 trees, it’s an easy way to get a historical view of Scarlet & Gray football over the years. Each buckeye tree features its own plaque for the player, with All-Americans from multiple seasons earning multiple trees, and their maintenance is in good hands too.
Ohio State has a long history of agriculture, dating back to its beginning as a land-grant university. The passing of the Morrill Acts of 1862 and 1890 gave federal grants to those who started colleges in states that focused on agriculture, science, engineering and more.
Rich Soccer History
If Ohio State-themed activities aren’t your thing, that’s ok too. Columbus has a rich history in the sport of soccer.
Lower.com Field is the second MLS stadium in the city’s history. The first, aptly named Historic Crew Stadium, was the first soccer-specific stadium in the United States for professional soccer.
Historic Crew Stadium’s hosted multiple World Cup qualifiers for the United States men’s national team, including four-straight 2-0 victories over the Mexico men’s national team, known as Dos A Cero. On the women’s side, the United States played a World Cup match in the stadium in 2003.
Now downtown, Lower.com Field has already hosted three international matches, with the United States keeping up their winning ways in the unofficial home of United States soccer, Columbus, Ohio.
On your trip, you can learn more about the soccer and overall sports history of the city at the Ohio History Connection, located just outside of the city and next to Historic Crew Stadium.
No matter what you’re looking to do between matches, whether its explore or relax, there are options for you in Columbus.